in my experience sketchup is awesome and intuitive for modelling whilst blender is hard and confusing, whilst blender is capable of brilliant animation and rendering where sketchup does neither(really). what if there was a way to combine the ease of sketchup and the power of blender, model in sketchup, then use blender to animate. there are other methods i described before but the site i recommended has turned it's back on services for us modellers and is now out for profit and nothing else, here is a new method for achieving the same thing AND not only is it free but it is also better at preserving textures and mapping. hope this helps you...
PS. this could be helpful for 3d printing as sketchup can be an effective tool for designing your 3d prints and blender can help process them and export to other formats like .stl
1. download this plugin for sketchup
http://www.kerkythea.net/joomla/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=42&func=fileinfo&id=112 follow the simple instructions on that page and in the txt file inside the zip you download. just copy the folder and the rb file into the sketchup plugins directory
2.now open sketchup a small pop up box should have appeared with some brightly coloured buttons, do not press any of them yet.
3. then separate out all the parts of the sketchup model you want to be able to move so they are nice clean distances away from where they should be (as in 3metres, 5m, 10m or whatever) this is because the grouping structure of sketchup will [B]not[/B] be preserved in the translation process.
4. then save the sketchup file in sketchup
5.now press the first button on the new toolbar marked "export model to kerkythea"
6.select the options as shown below
default uvs "yes"
7.click "ok" then give the file a name
8.click "save" then wait
9.on the box that now pops up click "yes"
10.then a file browser labelled "LOCATE kerkythea program , PLEASE" appears, click "cancel"
11.now we have the file in kerkythea format here comes the next step
12. find the file using my documents and copy the xml document into the folder where the textures of your model have been saved(that folder will be in the same folder asthe xml file and named TX_(file name of xml)
13. download this filehttp://www.nicetuna.com/kt2obj Important note: you need to have java on your computer for this to run, if you lack it java must be installed for the converter to work, however sometimes even with java installed it can fail(as happened on a window 8 machine of mine). Should that occur try the .net version instead, it can work where java fails. It will also allow you to convert files without needing to install java at all.
14.extract the .zip file into a new folder
15.open a file browser and go to where you left the xml file
16. right click and copy it
17.go to the folder where you extracted the zip file to and select the file "jkt2obj" it is an MS-DOS batch file
18. right click then paste
19.click run on the pop up window (scan for viruses first if you wish)
20. wait until the command prompt window displays "press any key to continue"
21.press a key then open up the folder containing the old xml file, an obj and mtl file will have appeared in that folder
23. import the new obj file
24. now join all the objects in this mesh together into one then proceed to go through the mesh in edit mode as follows
24a. select(using "b" key) an isolated object by drawing a box around it, make sure that the check box to select obscured from view objects is on and that there are no other objects directly behind what you select.
24b. press "p" key to separate the selection from the main object then close edit mode and select the new object, give it an appropriate name and set the origin for it by positioning(often with the snap to tools) the origin
24c. then move it along a certain distance on 1 axis back to where it belongs on the model, essentially reversing the separation process you performed while still in sketchup.
hope this helps, the blender and sketchup websites are here
and the sketchup 3d warehouse where you can download thousands of free 3d models of just about anything is here
message me if you have any problems or want to know more about anything
PLEASE NOTE: my new instructable on using sketchup and blender has a more detailed tutorial on this conversion process, it should help explain anything that this does not address. it also shows what to do once the model is in blender.